John Gorham, chef/owner of Toro Bravo in Portland impressed the culinary judges with his first-place dish of Elk Soup at Nicky USA's eighth annual Wild About Game cook-off. All 10 chefs had two hours to prepare a unique dish using wild and farm raised game or fowl for the panel of judges, including Janie Hibler, cookbook author and contributing writer for Gourmet, Leslie Cole, writer for The Oregonian's FoodDay and Mix magazine; and Cole Danehower, editor and publisher of Northwest Palate magazine.

The 2008 event included chefs from Portland and Seattle competing in the black box cook-off. Other events throughout the day included cooking demonstrations with Ben Dyer, Pascal Sauton, Vitaly Paley and Paul Bosch. "Knowing the caliber of the chefs, I expected good dishes, but I was astonished at the creativity and skill each chef put on the plate," said judge Danehower. "Every dish was a distinctive interpretation of the main game ingredient, and the range of flavors and skill of preparations was truly impressive."

2008 Wild About Game award-winning chefs:
  • First place, John Gorham, Toro Bravo, elk soup with a kidney mousse toast – The soup was prepared with handmade noodles, tongue, chanterelles, seared cauliflower, sliced raw salted tenderloin, charred tenderloin, and chives in a savory broth. The mousse included kidneys, bacon, foie gras, apples, onions, and chanterelles. (recipe below!)
  • Second place, Dustin Clark, Wildwood, creamed lacinato kale stuffed rabbit saddle, with a leek and cauliflower ragoût and roasted fingerling potatoes with olives
  • Third place, Pascal Chureau, Lucier and Fenouil, pan-roasted squab breast with toasted farro and cabbage paupiette, chanterelles and coffee consommé
2008 Wild About Game cook-off chef contestants:
  • Jason Barwikowski, Clyde Common, Portland
  • Pascal Chureau, Lucier and Fenouil, Portland
  • Dustin Clark, Wildwood, Portland
  • John Gorham, Toro Bravo, Portland (Restaurant of the Year 2007, Willamette Week)
  • Erol Kanmaz, Timberline Lodge, Timberland, Ore.
  • Joseba Jiménez de Jiménez, Harvest Vine, Seattle (2005, 2006 and 2007 nominee, James Beard Best Chef Northwest)
  • Troy McLarty, Lovely Hula Hands, Portland
  • Gabe Rucker, Le Pigeon, Portland (Food and Wine magazine's 2007 Best New Chefs in America and 2008 Nominee, James Beard Foundation Rising Star Chef of the Year)
  • Adam Kaplan, Genoa, Portland
  • Ethan Stowell, Union, Tavolàta and How to Cook a Wolf, Seattle (2008 nominee, James Beard Best Chef Northwest; and Food and Wine magazine's 2008 "Best New Chefs in America")

Elk Soup with Elk Kidney Mousse
John Gorham, chef/owner, Toro Bravo, Portland
Photo credit: John Valls
Recipe courtesy of Nicky USA's
Yield: 6 servings

12 egg yolks
1/2 c. milk
1 T. olive oil
19 oz. flour
1 T. salt
1 elk tenderloin
2 T. of each rosemary, garlic, and sage
Kosher salt, as needed
Black pepper, as needed
Reserved elk tenderloin scrapes
1 elk kidney
1 elk tongue
1 apple, diced
2 cups chanterelles
1 carrot, diced
1 rib celery, diced
2 onions, diced
2 oz. fresh ginger, diced
1 jalapeño, diced
3 Arbol chiles
1 stick cinnamon
4 c. water
6 perfect chanterelles
1/2 c. reserved elk broth
1 head garlic
1 stem rosemary
1/2 c. salt
4 c. water
1 c. small cauliflower flowers
2 T. butter
Fresh parsley, as needed
Chives, for garnish
Elk Kidney Mousse (recipe follows)

Method (1) Blend eggs, milk and olive oil in blender, then mix with flour and salt with dough hook until ball forms. Roll pasta, and cut into thin noodles. (2) Clean tenderloin, reserving scraps for elk broth. Cut the tenderloin in half. Pack one half of the tenderloin in salt, and place in the freezer. Rub the other half with rosemary, sage, garlic, salt and pepper. Sear the rubbed tenderloin in a very hot pan, but leave it very rare. Hand slice. Once salted tenderloin is firm remove from freezer. Slice very thin on a meat slicer or carefully by hand. (3) Sear reserved tenderloin scraps, kidney and tongue in a very hot pan. Once the meat has nice color, add apple, chanterelles, carrot, celery, onion, fresh ginger, jalapeño, Arbol chiles and stick cinnamon. Cook until the mixture has nice color. Deglaze with water, and simmer for 90 minutes; strain, and reserve tongue and broth separately. Season the broth with salt, pepper and fresh lemon juice. (4) Poach chanterelles in elk broth, and season just before serving soup. Reserve for plating. (5) Boil rosemary, garlic and salt in water. Quickly blanch cauliflower, and pat dry. Sear in a very hot pan with butter. Reserve for plating. (6) Clean the reserved cooked tongue, and rub meat with salt. Cut tongue into small cubes. Cook pasta in salted water, strain and toss with fresh parsley. To serve, place the homemade pasta noodles in bottom of individual serving bowl. Next add chanterelles, cubes of salted tongue and seared cauliflower. Then add salted elk tenderloin slices and seared elk tenderloin slices. Pour hot broth on top. Garnish soup with chives. Serve with the Elk Kidney Mousse on grilled rustic bread.

Elk Kidney Mousse
2 elk kidneys, soaked in milk for 1/2 hour
4 oz. foie gras
3 oz. bacon
1/2 apple, diced
1/2 onion, diced
5 chanterelles, chopped
1 T. each rosemary and sage
4 oz. butter
4 oz. cream cheese
1/2 c. bourbon
Grilled rustic bread, for serving

Method (1) In a very hot sauté pan, sear off kidneys until very brown, yet not overcooked. Sear off foie gras. Sauté bacon until crisp, then add apple, onion, chanterelles, rosemary, sage, butter, cream crease and bourbon, and cook until everything has color and is cooked through. (2) Put into a blender, and blend until smooth. Pass through a sieve, and cool. (3) Serve on grilled rustic bread with the Elk Soup.
Nestlé Professional, the foodservice division of Nestlé, celebrated the grand opening of its 67,000-square-foot, cutting-edge Nestlé Professional Customer Innovation Campus (NPCIC) Nov. 18. More than 150 local dignitaries, customers and employees and media representatives attended the grand opening, which included an interactive tour of the state-of-the-art culinary and beverage facility. Designed exclusively for Nestlé Professional’s customers — including chains, independent restaurants and noncommercial foodservice operations — the campus is also a resource for foodservice associations and a training facility for employees.

The NPCIC is fully reconfigurable to replicate customers' kitchen environments. The facility also boasts ideation and product development labs, as well as sophisticated training facilities for remote and Web-based education.

Customers who visit the campus will be taken through a proprietary creative and menu development process that is based on their individual needs and includes menu analysis and branded product concepts and recipes.
Pictured (l to r): Jorge Sadurni, President & CEO, Nestlé Professional, Americas; Debra Rami, Culinary team member, Nestlé Kitchens; Marc Caira, Global Business Executive, Nestlé Professional; Chuck Brower, Culinary team member chef, Nestlé Kitchens